On Friday, NLPC asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) for paying $830,000 for a newly-built home in 2006 that was worth more than $1.2 million. The home was built by Robert Gaskin, a contractor who does work on numerous projects for which Meeks has secured taxpayer funds. .
Classified a “mansion” by the City of New York, the Queens home has about 6,000 square feet, meaning that Meeks paid $138 per square feet. That price is less than half the cost per square foot for homes in Queens in both 2006 and 2007 according to the Trulia Real Estate Search service.
The $138 per square foot paid by Meeks is even less than the cost per square foot for public housing, $165 to $265. Purchasing a mansion for less per square foot than public housing is certainly a spectacular deal.
According to the Complaint:
Another indication that the Meeks home was a bargain comes from 2007/2008 Assessment Year Cost Guidelines, a publication of the New York City Department of Finance, Property Division Valuation Policy and Quality Control Unit. This cost guideline publication lists the cost per square foot for “High Value Residences (Mansion Style)” at $355 to $540. Taking the lowest end of that range, $355 per square foot and multiplying it times 6,000 square feet puts the cost of a 6,000-square-foot mansion at $2,130,000, a staggering $1,300,000 over Meeks’ purchase price of $830,000.
The Complaint also asks for an investigation into Meeks’ relationship with indicted Ponzi schemer R. Allen Stanford. The Miami Herald reported in December that former Stanford employees alleged that Stanford asked Meeks in 2006 to help retaliate against a former Stanford executive named Gonzalo Tirado in Venezuela who was attempting to blow the whistle on Stanford fraud. Stanford allegedly asked Meeks to contact Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. One month after Stanford made the request, Meeks flew to Venezuela to meet with Chavez. Stanford wanted Chavez to go after whistleblower Tirado, who was indicted a year later.
From the Complaint:
The issue isn’t whether Meeks received a sweetheart deal. He did.
The real focus of any investigation should be why Meeks received such a lucrative deal and who was Meeks’ beneficiary for the bargain mansion.